Biography of James Allen Kimbrough

A Man Renowed For His Morality

James Allen Kimbrough, lovingly known to his friends as “Uncle Jim Pony,” was widely known for his even disposition and moral character. We knew him from early childhood until his death and have never known a more lovable gentleman. Our mother knew him from the time she could first remember and our maternal grand-parents knew him from his own childhood days until their deaths. So we feel that we can speak with authority concerning his life. Mrs. R. L. McNatt, his youngest child, now has his Bible with the family ages, and similar data therein. She has given us permission to copy from this.

The following data is carefully reproduced from the original record in this Bible:

“James A. Kimbrough was born in the year of our Lord, 1830, December 9th. Jemina C. Kimbrough (his wife) was born in the year of our Lord, 1838, October 8th. Their marriage certificate is recorded as follows:

“This certifies that the Rite of Holy matrimony was celebrated between James A. Kimbrough of Franklin County, Ala., and J. C. Gotcher of Franklin County, Ala., July 12, 1855, at the residence of James Gotcher by John Childs, Esq.”

Mr. Kimbrough was a son of M. Duke and Elizabeth (Allen) Kimbrough of Franklin County. His paternal grand-father was Golman Kimbrough, a North Carolinian, and a soldier of the American Revolution, who came to Franklin County in 1817 from Maury County, Tenn., and settled on Cedar Creek, south of Russellville, but later removed to Walker County, Ala., where he is buried.

His mother was Miss Elizabeth Allen, a daughter of James Allen, and a sister of Lindsey Allen, a well known planter of antebellum days in Franklin County.

Both M. Duke and Elizabeth Allen Kimbrough are buried in the Roberson cemetery, west of Good Springs.

James Allen Kimbrough, subject of this sketch, was born and reared in Franklin County as it formerly existed, and spent the major portion of his life in the present County of Franklin. Not much has been told us concerning his boyhood days, but the supposition is that they were very much like those of the average boy of those days. We believe that he must have possessed a sweet, sunny disposition then as he did in his manhood.

His wife, Miss Jemina Catherine Gotcher, was reared near old Lagrange College. The married life of Mr. and Mrs. Kimbrough must have been a very happy one. We believe this was a union of true love. They lived together almost sixty-seven years, an unusually rare occurrence. And a more remarkable thing, perhaps, was the fact that they “kept house” to themselves until Mrs. Kimbrough’s death which occurred May 23, 1922.

Several children were born to them. All are yet living except a son who died in infancy. These children were very kind to their parents and did many things to make their last days on earth as pleasant as possible.

When the Southland was overshadowed by dark war clouds, Mr. Kimbrough decided that it was his duty to fight for the Southern cause. Bidding his wife and little ones a sad goodbye he went forth as a soldier. Those who were in his company spoke very strongly of his morality. Those were times “that try men’s souls,” and James Allen Kimbrough was ever the true, clean, courteous gentleman.

After the war he returned home and took up his vocation — farming. He lived many years on the Colbrt-Franklin County line near Dillards’s Mill. Later he bought land on the Waterloo road in what is known as the Jonesboro community, five miles from Russellville. There he lived until his death, with the exception of a year or two when he lived near Frankfort.

He was never wealthy in a material sense, yet he and his wife lived very comfortably in their last days. We have known of people who possessed much wealth when young, but who were dependent on charitable institutions when old. Mr. and Mrs. Kimbrough seemed to have been more blessed with the comforts of this world in the evening rather than the morning of life.

He and his wife were members of the Missionary Baptist Church. He was Church Clerk at old Sandlick, and a Clerk of the Big Bear Creek Association for several years. But he was not a radical in religious views. He had great respect for all people who were earnestly religious, regardless of their personal creed. He was not highly educated in books, but was a man of fine intelligence. He believed it one’s duty to vote on the public issues of the day. As in religion, he was tolerant in politics, but was always a true Democrat.

He was one of the most handsome old men whom we have ever seen. He was of fine stature, possessed beautiful features, and had snowy white hair, once raven black, and large brown eyes that beamed with noble intelligence.

Mr. Kimbrough passed quietly into the Great Beyond February 6, 1923, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Grissom, near where he had spent the last years of his life. On the day that he was buried the earth was covered with a heavy snow for this latitude, but the very large concourse of relatives and friends who attended his funeral showed the high esteem in which he was held.

The following paragraphs are reproduced from his obituary: “As a neighbor he was generous and thoughtful; as a citizen honorable, patriotic; as a Christian deeply pious and fully consecrated. His neighbors and friends speak only in the highest terms of him in all things. Probably a more loved or honored man never lived in a community. There are three things in his life that ought to be emphasized:

  1. His thoughtfulness for the comfort and welfare of others. He never lost an opportunity to show a kindness to others, and to do anything he could for the comfort of any one he came in contact with. As an example, a mail deliveryman whose route was by his house said that when the weather was warm Mr. Kimbrough always drew a fresh bucket of water about the time the mail was due that he might he refreshed, and when the weather was cold he wanted to do something for his comfort. He said this was an every-day affair.
  2. His kindly patient spirit. No one living now even among the oldest settlers ever knew or heard of his criticising any one whatever the provocation, and no one ever knew of his being unkind in word or act, even to a dumb brute. He was patient with the young and with the erring. He stood ready when any one had strayed away from the right to help lead him back in a kind spirit.
  3. His cleanness of speech. He was never known to use an ugly word. Old soldiers say that in the war when men tried him he never gave way at any point, but was as clean and chaste in his language as a good woman.

Mrs. Kimbrough, his wife, was well fit to be consort of such an ideal man. Both she and Mr. Kimbrough are buried in the Antioch cemetery, on the Waterloo Road, six miles from Russellville.

They have have many descendants and other relatives living in Franklin and Colbert counties.

It is also interesting to note that William Kimbrough, an older brother of James Alien Kimbrough, who died a few years ago, was distinguished for his uprightness of character. He at one time lived near Boston School House east of Russellville. A hill in that community is known to this day as “Kimbrough Mountain,” and on the side of that hill the most excellent limestone is now being quarried.

Later, Mr. Kimbrough moved on the mountain, south of Newburg and there his last days were spent. “Kimbrough’s Chapel” in that community commemorates the memory of the grand old man.

Source: Source: James, R. L. Distinguished Men, Women and Families of Franklin County, Alabama. Russellville, Ala., Private Publication, 1928. 111 p.

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